Virginia Tech’s G5 Supercomputing Cluster Faster Still, Back Up To #3

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Mac fans, Apple watchers, supercomputer users, and most of the rest of the tech and geek worlds have all been closely watching the grand experiment at Virginia Tech known as Big Mac. Big Mac is the universityis US$5 million supercomputing cluster of 1,100 2 GHz dual-processor Power Mac G5s that seems likely to be ranked in the top 5 faster supercomputers in the world.

Earlier this month, we reported that it was possible that Big Mac might rank as worldis second fastest supercomputer with a theoretical max of 17.6 TFlops of processing power. Such power would place it between NECis Earth Simulator at 35.86 TFlops, and Los Alamosis ASCI Q at 13.88 TFlops. Preliminary testing, however, showed that Big Mac put out a mere 7.41 TFlops, still enough to rank the system at #4. As tuning a supercomputer takes time, a week later, Virignia Tech had boosted performance up to 8.164 TFlops, but today the news is that Big Mac is faster still.

Wired News is reporting that the team running Big Mac, headed by Srinidhi Varadarajan, has boosted performance for the system up to 9.55 TFlops, and thatis enough to boost their ranking back up to the third fastest system in the world. Thatis not so bad for a solution that cost a fraction of what most supercomputers cost, but Mr. Varadarajan says his team can eke out still more power. From Wired News:

The latest semi-official numbers concerning the speed of Virginia Techis "Big Mac" supercomputer rank it as the third-fastest machine on the planet. The systemis architect, Srinidhi Varadarajan, said Tuesday evening that the newly completed supercomputer operates at 9.55 trillion operations a second, or 9.55 teraflops.

The number has been in flux in the last few weeks as Varadarajan tunes the system. Early numbers suggested the Big Mac was the worldis second-fastest supercomputer. Asubsequent report dropped the machine to fourth place.

The latest test vaults Big Mac -- the first supercomputer made of Macs -- to the third slot among the worldis Top 500 fastest machines, trailing Japanis Earth Simulator and Los Alamos National Laboratoryis ASCI Q. The final rankings will be revealed in mid-November at the International Supercomputer Conference.

The latest number wonit go lower, and may go even higher, Varadarajan said. System optimization is nearly finished, but "we still have a few more tricks," he said. "Weire hoping for a 10 percent boost, hopefully shortly."

Thereis much more in the full article, and we recommend it as a very interesting read.

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